In the comments to the post below Anne asked about Bella’s flower press. My mom brought it to Bella when she was up for Anthony’s birth. It is one of the best presents ever. (My mom is good like that.)
I believe my mom got it from a local artisan in my hometown of Austin, a fellow she’s been buying wooden toys from since we were kids. Our kids have a collection of little wooden animals on wheels from the same shop.
So I can’t provide a link to the exact press that we have. But I did find this Flower Press for kids at Amazon that looks like it might be nice. And then there was this site that has a couple of different options that aren’t specifically aimed at kids. (I think I want to get some of those hand lenses. And some of those botany books. And eventually a stereomicroscope.) I’m sure there are more out there; that’s just the first two I found.
Or if you are at all crafty, it wouldn’t be that hard to make one.
It’s basically two pieces of wood, some long bolts and wingnuts, and a bunch of pieces of cardboard and acid-free blotting paper. I think our press has about twelve layers. So that would be two dozen sheets of cardboard and two dozen sheets of blotting paper.
You put a piece of cardboard down in the middle between the bolts, then a piece of blotting paper, then your flower. Then another piece of blotting paper then more cardboard. You can add as many layers as will fit. Then once your flowers are all in place, you put on the top piece of wood and tighten the nuts till everything is smushed flat. The layers of cardboard help air to circulate so flowers dry quickly. The blotting paper keeps the plants from sticking to the cardboard.
The instruction sheet on our press says that it takes about three weeks for plants to dry. So far we’ve done two rounds of drying and have made some lovely pressed flowers.
We’re keeping our dried flowers in an old chocolate box that I prettied up with some decoupage. I cut flower pictures out of seed catalogs and stuck them on with Mod Podge. One of those projects I did right before Anthony was born. I was super proud of it and meant to blog about it but somehow that never happened.
As Anne suggests, this is a gift which will require children to cultivate patience. Three weeks can seem a long time to a five year old. Fortunately, Bella doesn’t stress about it. We just put it on the shelf once it’s loaded and she sort of forgets about it. When she remembers, it’s a pleasant surprise.